Makassar was a bustling town of about 1.5M people and seemed to be comparatively wealthier than we thought it would be for such a remote location. It is the administrative hub of eastern Indonesia and the main city on the island of Sulawesi. Sulawesi is relatively uncrowded for Indonesia and has a lot of mineral and agricultural wealth. A few people when they heard we were Canadian asked if we were with Inco as there is a large mining operation a few hours north of Makassar. We stayed at a “resort” hotel located on the ocean, and near to some shopping streets. Marg had a chance to look for some gold jewelry on “gold” street – a street with at least 10 stores selling gold. We couldn’t get over the complete lack of attention that we received as tourists. People were friendly and hospitable, but did not try to hassle us for beg us for money etc.
We visited the Fort Rotterdam, the old Dutch fort that was now a museum to see some of the early European history in the area as well as older cultural artifacts from Sulawesi. One of the more interesting encounters we had was with a becek driver who approached us and offered to take us to the nearby port/market. He was in his 60s and drove the bicycle rickshaw with plenty of power. He had learned all his English from speaking with tourists and provided commentary of the various places that we were passing through. The port had a collection of Bugis ships and was an active place loading and offloading cargo from ships that travelled between Kalimantan and Sulawesi and other islands.
For a completely different change we headed to the largest shopping mall in Makassar, that was a multistory indoor air-conditioned building more like a mall in Canada than a market in Indonesia and was a reminder of what the future would likely bring to this part of Indonesia.